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Quote About Dandelions

"You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity."

-- Hal Borland

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

For Sale

A dear (not deer) friend of mine is talented at both natural resource management and art. Combining both of her loves, she has created these one-of-a-kind art pieces and because I was so darn impressed by them, I offered to host a sale for her. Take a look and comment if interested!

Wonky Deer (buck) Skull: The hand-drawn designs are adorable and the wonky antlers add to the charm of this small skull. 

(Bright lighting washed out the colors in the second photo, but I promise they are there!) 

This hand-painted deer skull (doe) would be super cool to accent a southwestern home or could work as a neat paper weight. $40obo

I love the detail she put into this!

This cow jawbone is also hand-painted, and is fantastic! I'd love to see this as a wall hanging, but the possibilities are endless. Both sides have designs. $50obo

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I Said Yes

Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of a movie marathon with a group of my friends, The Gentleman asked if we could go take a photo shoot with his car. So we drove for 20 or so minutes until we found a little country road where we parked the car and set the camera up for a shot. The Gentleman requested that we take a photo together, but while I posed, he stepped away from me and I turned to find him on one knee with a ring box in one hand.

{I said yes}

I'll admit that I coasted through the entire day without the realization truly hitting me. To be perfectly honest I'm not sure if it has really hit yet this evening. I'm ecstatic and humbled, and a little bit awkward - but definitely happy.

The next few months will be crazy busy, but I will be sharing lots of DIY stuff as I prepare for the wedding. I can't wait to share with you!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Home Education - A Social Schooling

(This is the extended edition of a persuasive speech given in my Honors Communications class. Links to sources available upon request.)

Volunteer Zookeeper, ballerina, amateur herpetologist, beekeeper, costume maker, and orphaned squirrel rehabilitator. These are all titles I have held at some point in my grade school career. Titles that would not have been possible if my parents had not made the decision to homeschool me and my sisters. 

Although I knew it existed, until I got to college, I had never personally encountered the argument that homeschoolers do not achieve proper social skills because of their style of education. For the majority of my life I had only come across those who had recognized the vast benefits of homeschooling. It was intriguing to me to see that the pervasive myth of homeschoolers receiving improper socialization was present even among my peers. 

After examining this issue from various viewpoints, I have come to the following conclusions; when used properly, homeschooling provides proper social skills, diverse relationships, and extensive social interactions. Today, I hope to persuade you likewise.

When used properly, homeschooling provides proper social skills because the definition of social skills is misunderstood by mainstream society and because when used properly, homeschooling teaches all necessary social skills.

Instead of immediately questioning if homeschoolers have necessary social skills, question if you understand what necessary social skills are. According to, the definition of social skills is; “The personal skills needed for successful social communication and interaction.”

In a study conducted by Vanderbilt University, “[Stephen] Elliott [and] Frank Gresham identified the top 10 skills that students need to succeed based on surveys of over 8,000 teachers and over 20 years of research in classrooms across the country”. The skills are:
1. Listen to others
2. Follow the steps
3. Follow the rules
4. Ignore distractions
5. Ask for help
6. Take turns when you talk
7. Get along with others
8. Stay calm with others
9. Be responsible for your behavior
10. Do nice things for others

Parents are indeed concerned with socialization. In a survey of 31 homeschooling parents and students roughly half said that socialization was of either high or very high importance to them. The results did not vary much when student and parent results were separated.

Students have the opportunity to work directly with their parent who can more easily monitor their behavior and help shape it in their early formative years. As the students grow older, these skills are broadened by their interactions with other people. Because students have the ability to work one-on-one with parents, skills can be sharpened and weaknesses are able to be strengthened.

Now that we have a clear understanding of what proper social skills are, we can take a look at the social relationships homeschooling can offer students.

When used properly, homeschooling provides diverse social relationships because homeschoolers grow up in diverse families and because homeschoolers are exposed to a variety of demographics
I have met homeschooled students from different religions, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. Families with members who have different gender identifications, different races within the family, and families with members who had various learning challenges or health issues. In the same way that public or privately schooled students come from unique backgrounds, homeschoolers are not all cut from the same cloth.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2011-2012 report on education in the United States, 32% of home-educated students were in a minority group and 20% of all home-educating families were considered poor.

93% of my in-class survey participants said that they were friends with students from different schooling backgrounds than theirs. Interestingly enough, 94% of the homeschoolers who responded said that they are friends with public or private schooled students as well.

In a survey, one homeschooling parent listed questions they kept in mind when thinking of necessary social skills,
 “Can my child converse with those he or she comes in contact with in a clear and understandable way? Are they able to speak with the appropriate vocabulary depending on the age of the person they are speaking with? Are they able to make and maintain eye contact with those they are speaking? Are they able to engage in meaningful conversation with all ages and demographics they come in contact with?”
This parent is not only concerned with making sure their student is exposed to a variety of demographics, they have considered the skills their student will need to master such interactions.

Another parent’s response was, “My children participate in swimming for 3 hours a day with other children their own age who are homeschooled and public school children. They also participate in Band and Choir with same age children. When in high school they take dual enrollment college courses. They also volunteer in church with people of all ages. So they socialize with people of different ages in a variety of activities.”

Social skills are seldom selected as a point of strife for students in public school systems. Yet while a public or privately schooled students spends approximately 6 hours a day inside of a school, homeschoolers are able to participate in activities outside of their home at any time they choose.

Personally, I have done my schoolwork everywhere from doctors’ offices to car inspection lines. Because I could take my schoolwork with me, I was able to meet more people and see more situations than I might have elsewise. Homeschool support groups I have participated in would go to nursing homes or assisted living homes to sing Christmas carols or hand out Valentine’s Day cards. Because of my involvement with 4H, I was selected as a teen leader for a day camp where I helped master gardeners teach urban children all about where their food comes from.

We have discovered the diverse social relationships a homeschooler may encounter, it is now time to examine their social interactions.

When used properly, homeschooling provides extensive social interactions because homeschoolers have regular scholastic social interactions and because homeschoolers participate in extra-curricular activities.

 In his article “Revisiting Common Myths about Homeschoolers”, Michael Romanowski stated that “On the average, homeschooled students are involved in 5.2 activities outside the home, with 98 percent engaged in two or more.”

Out of the 8 homeschoolers whose classwork was confined to their home only, 7 of them still participated in activities outside the home on a weekly basis. These included Civil Air Patrol, band, sports teams, and classes with other students.

As you can see from the photos, homeschoolers are able to participate in a multitude of extracurricular activities. Everything from working with animals to being in a circus, running a 5K to being a beekeeper, and even going to prom or senior banquets.

According to my survey of homeschoolers, extracurricular activities they participate in include: 4H, dance, volunteer work, field trips, parties, scouts, Taekwondo, gymnastics, music lessons, and hanging out with friends.

Homeschoolers have even tackled the internet. Let’s watch a clip from the highly successful YouTube channel “Blimey Cow” as Jordan busts a few homeschooling myths.

In review, I have shown you why, when used properly, homeschooling provides proper social skills, diverse relationships, and extensive social interactions. Now, this is not to say that every single homeschooled student will display all ten skills at all times, and this is not to say that every homeschooled student will receive enough diverse socialization for them to not be individually labeled as socially awkward or unsure. However, as I hope I have shown you, these students are rare and should be considered outliers. The majority of homeschooling students are active members of their community. 

As one mother told me just recently, “Socialization? I am too busy driving my children from ballet to archery to 4-H to be able to focus on socialization.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

On animals in the city

I’ve been blessed with an array of animal encounters that most who are raised in the city miss out on. While I may not have the advantage to having grown up on a farm, I make up for it in my experiences.

I made a list of creatures that have been permitted to live in my house over the years:
  •         Dogs
  •       Cats
  •       Snakes
  •      Turtles
  •          Fish
  •          Snails
  •          Rabbits
  •          Mice
  •          Rats
  •          Squirrels – they were babies that fell out of their nests
  •          Shrimp
  •          Frogs
  •          Lizards
  •          Bees
  •          And the latest addition: chickens

I’ve begged for chickens for years and been turned down every time. But on the occasion of my sisters + mother rescuing one from the middle of a very busy road a few weeks ago, they are now chicken owners.

She’s a very nice, albeit spoiled, chicken and she needs a nice chicken house. I spent hours designing an awesome coop yesterday, only to be informed that we were picking one up from a friend. At least my limited math skills got a little workout...

But this coop is going to need some TLC before it can be handed over to Miss. Chelsey (oh yes, she’s got a fancy-pants name.)

The friend’s goats were not impressed at my attempts to lure them closer.

Chickens are allowed in the city where I live, but we still have to be careful due to the many possums, raccoons, cats, and hawks that would eat a chicken up in a heartbeat. This will be a great adventure for my younger sisters as they learn how to care for a few chickens (Dad doesn’t know it but there will be a small flock soon) and how much responsibility a few small animals take.

In the meantime, I’ll applaud from a distance and be willing to console if something goes wrong. This isn’t my project, but I’m proud of how my sisters are willing to step up.

♥ Sarah

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Our Precious Lasts

There's a rapidly circulating article on a lovely young woman named Brittany who is choosing to end her life on November 1st, 2014 in order to avoid a painful death due to brain cancer.

I spent a solid 30 minutes sobbing after I read about her on A Cup of Jo - I have been "blessed" with the ability to feel strongly other people's pain.

My stance on the issue is not in line with Brittany's, but I feel for her. I am empathetic to how terrifying her limited number of days is. I understand how big that vacuum inside her heart is when she thinks about death and what comes after.

However, this post is not about her choice to decide the time and place of her death - that is not a topic I wish to carry out on social media – and others have done a much more eloquent job than I ever could. This post is about living.

As I scrolled through the comments on A Cup of Jo, one in particular stood out. Another woman who has been diagnosed with an illness made the point that today's society is so caught up in having amazing *new* experiences before we "kick the bucket" that we fail to think about how precious our *last* experiences will be. We as a society are disengaged from our elders, missing out on the opportunity to witness and participate in "lasts." We take the time to photograph or otherwise document a child’s thousands of “firsts”, but aren't an elderly person’s “lasts” just as important? 

The end of life is not what most would consider beautiful; it lacks the aesthetic nature of birth and childhood. But in so many ways, it is more so. The last days we have on this planet are our parting gifts to humanity. Our flourished - or scribbled - signature on the letter we wrote as we lived. The punctuation mark at the end of a sentence. And they are fleeting. 

I know from personal experience what a terrible thing it is to waste lasts. I grew up paying short visits to my great grandmother every year, but I was so much more interested in watching her TV or playing with her dogs and cats that I can only remember a handful of things she said before she passed away. In retrospect, she was one of the strongest, most unbiased, and loved-filled women to ever grace this planet. Her heart and home had room for everyone, even those society would consider unlovable. I completely missed out on learning from her, instead I only have snatches of her essence, so to speak, to remember her by. I would give so much to go back and talk with her, ask her questions, or just listen to her gently laugh at the antics of her large family.

I’ve thought about this over and over today, and wondered how I can change my thoughts on firsts and lasts. How I can mold my sense of appreciation to accept the nearing end of someone’s life. How I can learn to see it as beautiful and not something to be shut away and mentioned in hushed tones. How I can prepare to experience lasts in mine and other's lives. 

Because life is beautiful, and terrible, and hard and as it draws to a close the finale should be abundantly celebrated. It should be cherished. It should be brought out in the open and talked about – it is something we will all face and we might well face it with as much vigor as we can.  

 ♥ Sarah

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Adventures in Student Observing

There have been so many little adventures over the past few weeks that I've been observing at a local high school. I am required to write a journal-type report after each visit and I thought it would be fun to share my latest writings.

*All names have been changed in order to protect students' privacy
In order to accomplish the necessary planning for the lesson I am to teach in Vet Science, I am keeping track of where my CT is with her lessons and I have spent time with her going over the objectives. The lesson I will be teaching is on animal nutrition and reading feed labels. My CT employs several strong teaching techniques into all of her lessons and I will be sure to do the same. She has a portion where she introduces the new vocabulary and has students come up with definitions in their own words and then she teaches them mnemonics to help them remember the meanings. I plan on using some of her strategies and then combining them with some of my own. I am also consulting another agriculture teacher who is a recent graduate and using his ideas to inspire my lesson.
I enjoy the time before classes start and in-between classes because the teachers take time to talk with me about what works and what doesn’t in their classes, and how they deal with different situations in the school system. The CTs offer opinions on everything you could think of and I am enjoying being in their company. On the other hand, I have noticed that they enjoy the classes they teach because there is not too much pressure on them to have fantastic test scores on standardized tests, and because of this they don’t teach material as well as they might otherwise. This influences a n increasing concern I have - that I will fall into the mindset that agriculture classes don’t really matter and I’ll become too lax in my approach to teaching. The best way I can see to avoid this is to stay current in both global agricultural news and educational news. I will need to constantly remind myself and my students the real-world impact of what they are learning.  
I’ve discovered over the past five visits how careful I need to be with the words I speak to teachers and students. If I am too approachable for the students, I lose authority and have to backtrack to regain it. If I am not careful, my willingness to participate in instructing the class can be misinterpreted as overstepping my bounds and I have to work to regain the teacher’s acceptance of my help.
I have been on the lookout, so to speak, for the effects of the “No Bully” program. Today I witnessed a scene in my third-block class that both warmed my heart and made me angry. The turf class is composed of junior and senior guys who are fairly well behaved. There is one boy (I’ll call him, “Ian”) who is usually in special-education classes due to mental development issues, but because he helps his father with his landscaping business he requested to take the turf class. Today another classmate - “George” - swiped Ian’s hat in-between classes and hid it from him in the classroom – I didn’t realize what was going on until later or I would have stepped in at this point. Ian came into the class red-faced and upset because he couldn't find his hat. George sat and watched Ian get more and more upset, until yet another classmate - “Phillip” - noticed what was going on and demanded that George return Ian’s hat to him post haste and dared him to even think about picking on Ian again. The hat was returned, albeit some eye-rolling, and no more was mentioned of the matter by the boys. I was more than a little upset that someone would pick on a special-needs student – or any student for that matter – but I was excited to see that there were students willing to stop the bullying head-on. Now, as to whether or not that student stepped up because of the program, I am not sure. I will ask around next week to get the teacher’s input.    

            Something else that has been very encouraging to me is the principal’s encouragement for me to continue coming even after I am finished with my ten visits. Ms. C would like for me to stay involved with the agriculture program at her school. I talked with the teachers and we’ve agreed that I will start attending their FFA meetings so that I can both learn about how that club works and stay involved in the school. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Post: DIY Decorate a Small Space

Today marks a Very Special Day for me and my little blog! Today's the day I have my very first Guest Blogger! 

Hannah is a friend from way, way (way) back in middle school. She's a lovely woman who has played a large role in my life (she's also The Gentleman's sister!) and I've been charmed by how she's embraced adulthood and married life. She's currently not a blogger - though she used to be, and I'm hoping she will be again someday.

I asked her to write about how she's decorated her apartment. I didn't realize it, but I'd asked her to write the article as she was in the middle of a move - sorry about that, dear!

And now, I'll let her charm you herself.


Moving from apartment to apartment can be stressful. Especially since it seems like there is always something you overlooked in the new apartment that you won’t find out about until you’re half-way through the moving process. For my husband and I, that one thing always seems to be a lack of storage space. The past two times we moved we’ve had to find creative ways of storing things that, when I was younger, I wouldn't have ever thought about! Where to put the magazines, the extra blankets, the crafting supplies, the board games…the list seemed endless. So it seemed we had two options, buy pieces of furniture exclusively for storage, or rearrange our house so we could have one piece of furniture that served multiple purposes. Seeing as we try to not focus on having an over-abundance of material possessions (not to mention we would have no place to put those pieces), that left us with the latter choice.

We started with our lack of a proper coffee table (apparently the carpet “isn't a good enough coffee table”). I looked around on Pinterest for a bit and decided that a rustic, pallet look would go best with the look of our house, and give us a place to put those pesky magazines! So we acquired the pallets from my parents farm (although it’s fairly easy to find free pallets on Craigslist or at a furniture store) and simply stacked three of them on top of each other. Thankfully, pallets are heavy enough that there’s no need to bolt them together to keep them from sliding around. From there we put anything we didn’t want to look at all the time into the slots and put a Webster’s Dictionary and a few candles on top for decoration.

Next we needed a place to put extra quilts and crafting supplies. My parents-in-law had given us a dresser that, even though was a beautiful antique, was far too massive to fit in our bedroom. So we simply took the mirror off, decorated the top with an antique typewriter, my DIY origami wedding bouquet, a dried flower arrangement, and an original painting found at Goodwill. And then voila! We found a new use for a dresser and turned it into a buffet where we now store blankets, biking accessories and craft supplies.  

And I know there are girls out there who have the same problem I do of not having a great place to put their jewelry and it seems to only get tangled and in the way. Well there is hope! An easy way to fix that problem (if you’re like me and aren’t really interested in having a more traditional jewelry box) is to find an old picture frame, take out its contents and hot glue/staple ribbon across. your necklaces can hang down from the top of the frame and the ribbon is the perfect place to put earrings! So there you are, a 30 minute job and it clears up the clutter of jewelry from whatever drawer it was being stuffed. Definitely a great weekend project!

So if you don’t have the money/space to spend on buying something to store your bike tire pumps or sewing material in, never fear. Just look around in thrift shops, garage sales and antique shops to find inexpensive ways to clear up your house. I find it the most peaceful when I can come home from work, light some incense, make some tea...and NOT be forced to stare at random piles of books and DVDs. Don’t let the stress of having a messy house rule your life, take charge and find ways to clear things up, once and for all!  

♥ Hannah

Friday, September 12, 2014

School Outfits: Week 1

This is a terribly late and crappy photo of an outfit. But it is the best I can do for this week. Sincere apologies and a pinky promise to do better next week.

For my first visit to the school, I kept it simple with a blue tank-top, plaid button-up, a black maxi skirt, and silver sandals.

If you were going to rock such an outfit, you might could grab stuff like these products:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

College: The Sophomore Year

Hello, dearest of readers!

I am back in school, and goodness have I hit the ground running! Being in class 16+ hours a week means that I study roughly 16 hours a week too. So I basically "work" a 32 hour week. Not bad, all things considered. I also maintain a small personal life, and I am on the lookout for a part time job.

Due to time constraints, I will be posting less on here, and due to current life situations, the direction of the blog will change slightly. I will be addressing current issues facing Agriculture and Education, along with my stance on both topics as a Christian. (Yes, my religious beliefs do affect my views on Agriculture! I'll explain more in the coming weeks.) I'll also post humorous stories, life lessons learned, and tips/tricks I find helpful on living as a full-time student.

Over the next semester, I will be an assisting/observing preservice teacher in a local school ten different times. I have been searching like mad lately to find clothing appropriate to wear to a school, in a style that I actually like, that is also inexpensive enough for my very, very limited budget. I will be posting my weekly outfits every Friday, in the hopes of inspiring other education students.

If there's anything you'd like to see on here, feel free to comment. I like hearing from people.

♥ Sarah

Friday, August 15, 2014

Popping In

Hello Lovelies!

I'm still caught up in the whirlwind of getting ready to move back in to school in a few days. But I've missed writing and I said to myself this morning, "Dadgummit, I'm going to write a blog post if it kills me!"

I'm done (mostly) making things for the Fair. My favorite things I've made are ^That book clutch^ and these necklace pendants:


I got to go to my favorite Elvis Week event - one of the free shows at The Tent! My super incredibly talented friend performs and competes every year and I've been blown away by how much stronger his performance is every time he steps onto a stage. This boy's going places. 

I'll miss my "summer home" but it's time for me to hit the road. 

No, really! I finally bought a car! 

College, here I come for Round 2.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Recap

So almost two weeks ago I posted that I was really busy. I was and am still. 

But I have had many adventures!

I visited my little college town and its library. 

People should know better than to offer free books to take home around me!

I paid a visit to an old family quilt that hangs in the library. Each pattern piece is made of twenty or so names hand-embroidered on. 

That took some patience, right there.

Then the next day I got up and for two days I traveled all the way up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the EAA Airventure Airshow. 

It was my first time of course it rained every day and my tent leaked. Good thing I love nature.

And a few rainbows never hurt anyone, either.

Among the hundreds of things to do was listen to astronauts talk about their research plane. 

Or, for those with a need for adrenaline.....

...You could watch aerial-aerobatics with exploding dynamite as the backdrop!

(At this point, I informed The Gentleman that I am, in fact, actually in *need* of a few sticks of dynamite for my very own. He disagreed vehemently....apparently I don't seem trustworthy with fire or something...) 

(Back off, ladies - he's mine!)

It was a wonderful adventure (or Airventure, as the case may be.) Plus, I got to hang out with this handsome fellow for a solid 9 days! 

♥ sHe